Author Archives: Environment | Discover Magazine

Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags Might Be Too Good To Be True

Compostable and biodegradable dog poop bags are a load of, well, crap. Experts say there’s a difference between marketing claims and what the bags actually do after they’re thrown away. Continue reading

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Octopus Farms Could Become a Reality. Scientists Warn This Isn’t a Good Idea

Efforts to raise octopuses in captivity, like we do with salmon and other fish, are on the rise. But farming these sea creatures to become our food might be unethical and bad for the environment, some scientists say. Continue reading

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Is Rainwater Safe to Drink? Runoff Collected by Volunteers Offers Clues

A citizen science project called Off the Roof tested rainwater runoff collected by volunteers. They found that rainwater can be easily treated, but does often have contaminants similar to what’s found in streams and rivers. Continue reading

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20 Things You Didn’t Know About Wilderness

The great outdoors is good for our overall health, but this precious resource is in danger. Continue reading

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The Arctic Hasn’t Been This Warm for 3 Million Years — and That Foreshadows Big Changes for the Rest of the Planet

Extreme shrinkage of summer sea ice is just the latest evidence of rapid Arctic warming — and what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. Continue reading

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George Washington Carver’s Legacy Went Beyond Peanuts

The famed scientist made lasting contributions to environmental and sustainable farming. Continue reading

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How Our Changing Climate Will Make Hurricanes Worse

Stronger wind speeds, rising sea levels and increases in water temperature add up to create more potential for destruction. Continue reading

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Cropland vs Climate Change: A Conversation with Wolfgang Busch

The molecular biologist describes how genetically engineered corn and wheat could become powerful tools for de-carbonizing the planet. Continue reading

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The U.S. Recycling System Is Flawed. Here’s How We Can Do Better

Recycling materials correctly in the age of international restrictions and a pandemic isn’t easy. Continue reading

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These Citizen Science Projects Help Researchers Track Climate Change Hazards

Climate change is fueling natural disasters and more extreme events around the world. Citizen scientists can help researchers track these changes in real time. Continue reading

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Western Wildfires Are Spinning Off Tornadoes — Here’s How Fires Create Their Own Freakish Weather

Extreme wildfires can fuel tornadoes, creating erratic and dangerous conditions for firefighters. Continue reading

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The Budding Plant Parent’s Guide to Fixing Common Houseplant Problems

What new plant moms and dads need to know to help indoor plants thrive — or at least, stay alive. Continue reading

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Life After Death: What Human Burial Options Will Look Like in a Sustainable Future

Embalming, cremation and casket-making are far from eco-friendly. Some researchers want to return human bodies to the earth naturally. Continue reading

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Things to Know Before Spraying Pesticides On Your Garden

A guide on how to keep insects and pests from destroying your garden veggies and plants. Continue reading

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Why Light Pollution is a Crucial Test of Humanity’s Problem-Solving Skills

A new way to think about light pollution in Europe and the U.S. should help policy makers take its measure. But if they can’t solve it, what hope for more complex problems like global heating? Continue reading

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The Science Behind Cancer, Roundup Herbicide and Bayer’s $10 Billion Settlement

More studies are needed on glyphosate, the controversial pesticide in Roundup, to determine how it affects humans. Continue reading

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Cities are Eliminating Your Excuses to Skip on Composting

Even if you don’t have a personal garden to sprinkle compost in, there are other ways the soil additive can be helpful. Continue reading

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The Other Solar Power: How Scientists Are Making Fuel From Sunlight and Air

Scientists find a way to use the sun’s energy to pull carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into fuel. Continue reading

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The Government is Scaling Back Water Quality Protections. These Surfers are Picking up the Slack

Decades ago, California surfers decided to fight coastal pollution. Today, their massive network of citizen scientists is monitoring water quality in places the government doesn’t. Continue reading

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To Fight Plastic Pollution, These Researchers Want Your Pictures of Beach Trash

Every year, 8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the ocean. Scientists want your help tracking where it comes from and where it goes. Continue reading

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How Counting Caterpillars Can Help Scientists Understand Climate Change

Insects are a vital food source for migratory birds. Scientists need help tracking how these insect populations are responding to climate change. Continue reading

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Can Your Community Handle a Natural Disaster and Coronavirus at the Same Time?

If the forecasts are right, the U.S. could be facing more natural disasters this year — on top of the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments aren’t prepared. Continue reading

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National Parks Are Empty During the Pandemic — and Wildlife Are Loving It

With people, vehicles and all the commotion absent, some species might demonstrate just how much more space they actually need. Continue reading

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Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across the Great Lakes

Warmer waters, heavier storms and nutrient pollution are a triple threat to Great Lakes cities’ drinking water. The solution: Cutting nutrient releases and installing systems to filter runoff. Continue reading

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Miss Out on Earth Day? Don’t Worry — Here Are Ways to Help the Environment All Year

Earth Day is all about lasting environmental change, after all. Continue reading

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Planet Earth, the Pandemic, and the Power of One

Humans are not the only species suffering from COVID-19. If we are wise, we also won’t be the only ones to benefit when the pandemic ends. Continue reading

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After 50 Years of Earth Day, What Have We Learned?

The environmental movement has reckoned with new choices and past failures since the very first Earth Day. Continue reading

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Herds of Hoofed Herbivores Might Help Keep Permafrost From Melting

By compacting the snow, trampling by animals could expose the warming soil beneath them to the cold air above. Continue reading

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Herds of Hoofed Herbivores Might Help Keep Permafrost From Melting

By compacting the snow, trampling by animals could expose the warming soil beneath them to the cold air above. Continue reading

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Residents Rallied to Measure Radiation After Fukushima. Nine Years Later, Many Scientists Still Ignore Their Data

A citizen scientist group now has thousands of radiation monitoring devices all around the world. But nuclear researchers are often reluctant to use the measurements. Continue reading

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